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Romans 1:1-17, Nov 11 & 18, 2012 PDF Print E-mail

As we look at our nation, there is and there is a growing anti-Christian bias.  A necessary question is, how do we overcome a society that is growing in hostility towards Christ and those who follow Him?  In Romans 1:1-17 we find three foundational truths that enable us to overcome a hostile society.

 

The first is found in verses 1 to 7.  We are introduced to Paul and that he is a bondservant, called as an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.  The purpose of Paul's ministry is to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles in Christ's name (vs 5).  What is striking in these few verses is the singularity of focus to bring the gospel to the Gentiles and Paul's love and devotion to Christ that is expressed in his drive to accomplish this task.  Paul is an excellent example of one who engages a hostile culture in the name of Christ.  In these few verses we see a love for the Lord translated into a focused goal which is the obedience of the Gentiles.

 

The second foundation is found in verses 8 to 13.  Here Paul expresses his love for the body of Christ at Rome.  He thanks God for them.  He longs to be with them for the purpose of sharing in each other blessings.  Paul's love for those believers in Rome was an active love.  What is key for us in engaging a hostile culture is that we must love those around us in Jesus' name.  Remember that to love another person is to seek their best.  Here we find Paul loving those he is hoping to minister to.  One of the foundations of overcoming a hostile society is to actively love them in Christ's name.

 

The third foundation to overcoming a hostile society is found in verses 14 to 17.  In verses 14 & 15 we see that Paul is eager and obligated to preach the gospel to those who are in Rome.  He is not ashamed of the gospel.  The word ashamed here means "the fear of embarrassment that one's expectations may prove false."  As we engage a hostile society, we must not be ashamed of the gospel.  There is no need to make excuses or apologize for the gospel or our faith in Christ.  As Paul says, "it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (NAU).  Praise God!  The third foundation to overcoming a hostile culture is to proclaim the gospel unashamedly.  The gospel contains the righteousness of God. 

 

If we are going to overcome an anti-Christian culture, we need to be firmly founded on an active love for the Lord, an active love for others and, the gospel.  

 

God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

 
10th Anniversary Celebration - Nov 4, 2012 PDF Print E-mail

Through God's grace, He started Stone Gate Bible Fellowship through many of you all.  He brought together a body of His Son where Christ is worshipped, families are welcome and fellowship is a reality.

 

Our hope is that Jesus would remain the main focus of all that we do.  He would not be just another self help object that helps us get along, but that worship of Him would be our focus.  Secondly is that families are welcome.  At the core of this is that parents are the chief under shepherds of their children and the church is to help equip the parents.  Here we have intergenerational Sunday School and encourage children to join their parents in worship.  Lastly is that fellowship goes beyond just a kind greeting on Sunday morning, but that we would share our lives together in Christ. 

 

Looking back over these past 10 years we can see God's Spirit working through us.  This is a list of what He has done:

 

Ladies teas

July 4 celebrations - every year

Christmas celebration - every year

Japanese cooking class

Volunteer Improvement Beautification Event (VIBE)

AWC

Music cafe

Self Defense class

Music concert 

Shoe Box - Samaritans Purse; Bethesda Chapel

Missions: Barselos; Olsons; Jamisons; Gotos; Tomas; Mexico Mission; 

Japan Tsunami Relief: Hope Miyagi - 3 teams

Renovations: Suite I; Suites L & M

Bible Studies:  Grudem's Systematic Theology; Revelation

Home Fellowship Group:  Truth Project; Ray Vander Laan series;  

Men's retreat - Mammoth

Church Camp Out - Lagunas

Sunday School

Biblical Counseling

After service fellowship snacks/lunches

Drama: Potter's House, Prisms, Gardens of the Heart, Fishermen, Transforming Grace, Touch of Class, Worthy of Worship, Lian, 9066

 

To God Be the Glory!

 

God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

 
Vote - Oct 29, 2012 PDF Print E-mail

It is hard to believe that the elections are only a few weeks away.  We all have our opinions about who should be our next president.  And in many cases those opinions are very strong, so strong that we have a tendency to judge one's spirituality or maturity based on who they would vote for.

 

My wife was sharing with me a passage out of Jeremiah the other night.  Actually is was out of Jeremiah 27.  In this chapter we find that it is God Who established Nebuchadnezzar as the world leader at the time.  It would not be the person I would choose or even imagine of choosing, but it is clear that God chose him for a specific period of time and purpose.   

 

The point is that God is a sovereign God and His ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts.  This applies to this election as well.  We think that the amount of money a candidate has or how well he or she does in a debate or how much he or she can connect with voters determines if he or she will win the election.  While on the surface it might seem that way, but in reality, it is God Who determines who will be in the oval office for the next four years.

 

The result is that we need not be anxious if "our" candidate is lagging in the polls.  The person who is elected is God's person for the job of accomplishing His plan.  It may be the one who we voted for or it may not be.  In either case our peace comes from knowing God, not the politician.

 

We must be careful not to presuppose God's plans.  It is quite possible that God will use the next president to either prosper our nation or bring it to its knees.  We just don't know.  Our place is to seek the Lord in all of our circumstances, proclaim His greatness and rest in Jesus' finished work on the cross.  

 

Recognizing God's sovereignty does not mean that we should not vote or get involved for who we believe is the best person to lead our nation.  It does mean that at the end of the day we yield to God's choice whether it is the same or different than our choice.

 

There are four things that we must do.

 

The first is that we must seek the Lord through His Word to see which candidate would best represent what is important to Him.

 

Secondly, we must ask Him for wisdom and discernment.

 

Thirdly, we must know that God is sovereign in the election.

 

Fourthly, our hope is found in God, not in who gets elected.

 

God Bless,

  

Pastor Steve

 
1 Peter 5:12-14, Sunday Oct 21, 2012 PDF Print E-mail

In verse 12 to 14, Peter closes this letter. Verse 12 contains the last imperative.  Peter commands them to stand firm in the true grace of God.  But what is this "true grace of God?"  It is clear that it is found in the previous verses.  What is listed below is a short and incomplete summary of all that Peter has been writing about.

 

1:1-3 - chosen; born again

1:13 - prepare your minds; keep sober; fix your hope completely on the grace

1:17 - conduct yourselves sin fear during the time of your stay on earth;

1:22 - fervently love one another from the heart.

 

2:1-2 - set aside all malice; all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, all slander, long for the Word.

2:5 - offer up spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God through Jesus

2:9 - People of God to proclaim His greatness

2:11 - abstain from fleshly lusts

2:13 - Submit for the Lord's sake to every human institution,

2:18 - Servant be submissive - bear up under sorrows when suffering unjustly

2:21 - Christ is our example

 

3:1 - wives be submissive to your husbands

3:7 - husbands live with your wives in an understanding way.

3:8 - all be harmonious, sympathetic ...

 

4:1 - Arm yourselves to suffer in the flesh

4:7 - the end is near therefore be of sound judgment, sober spirit for prayer, love one another, be hospitable, serve each other with God given gifts.

4:8 - don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is to come upon you for your testing.

 

5:2 - elders shepherd the flock according to the will of God.

5:6 - humble yourselves under God's "mighty hand."

 

As you can see that the grace of God represents both God's unmerited favor to us through choosing us and also His help to live out our relationship with God in all of our lives.  Several of the main topics that Peter covers are about relationships, suffering, church issues and how we are to relate to God.  In all of this there is the central theme of humbling ourselves before God.  And in this humility God gives His help or grace.  

 

Thus we are commanded to stand firm in the true grace of God.  We are to stand firm in Jesus' finished work on the cross.  It is through Christ's sacrifice that our relationship with God the Father is secure, nothing more and nothing less.  We are to stand firm in God's help to remain obedient.  This means that we are to trust that God will provide the strength to accomplish all that He calls us to be and do.  And when we fail, or sin, we are to cling to Jesus and His finished work for our redemption and forgiveness.  

 

God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

 
1 Peter 5:5-11 Sunday, Oct 14, 2012 PDF Print E-mail

 

One of the things that we pride ourselves in is our free spirited independence.  We honestly think that we don't have to submit to anyone.  Every once in a while I watch a TV show about university campus police.  What I find so interesting is how many of the college students they deal with are arrogant and defiant up until the point that they are being placed in hand cuffs and placed in the back of the police car.  It is fascinating how their attitudes begin to change dramatically at that point.

 

What they and we all fail to recognize is that we all submit to someone or something.  In 1 Peter 5:5, Peter defines for those young men how they are to honor God and that is to submit to the elders of the church.  Within that same verse, Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit identifies what the true challenge is for submitting.  It is the human pride, for in the very next statement, he gives the charge to all of them to put on humility toward one another.  The reason is clear, God opposes the proud but give His unmerited favor and help towards the humble.

 

Peter goes to the heart of the matter.  He commands them to humble themselves under God's hand.  For us, this means that we are to place God's desires above our own.   Humility is the attitude of being selfless (not thinking about ourselves) so we put Christ above ourselves.  This means that as we encounter persecution, we are not to be distressed, but we are to keep entrusting our circumstance to God.  At the heart of this is a trust of God.  Do we trust Him that our circumstances are under His control and that He as a perfect purpose for them even when they involve persecution?  As we yield to God, our egos and pride are no longer in control so we can put others above ourselves out of obedience to Christ.  Verse 6 closes with God's promise of lifting His people out of their present struggle.  In the following verse we are encouraged to place all of our worries upon God because He cares for us.  The amazing truth is that God cares for us.

 

In verses 8-9, we are instructed to stand up to the devil by remaining strong in our faith in God.  We are to be clear headed and alert for Satan and his schemes.  There is encouragement to resist Satan knowing that they are not alone in their suffering (vs 9).  In verse 10 they and we are reminded that suffering is only for a short period and that ultimately God will work in those who are suffering to overcome the circumstances.  Verse 11 ends with a call recognizing Gods sovereignty.

 

What does all this mean?  It pleases God when we humble ourselves before Him and others.  (i.e. We put Him and others before ourselves.)  Secondly we are to make every effort to keep our reasoning Biblical and alert to resist Satan by trusting God.  Thirdly we are to find hope that our suffering here on earth is only temporal and God will strengthen and rescue us.  One of the things that I need to keep in mind is that the big picture is to remain faithful to Christ no matter what.  Here is how we can do that.  Praise God!

 

Pastor Steve

 
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Contact Information

Phone Number: 760 803 8598

Email Address: pstrito@stonegatebible.org

 

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